October 15, 2021

Soucie: Week 1 games to watch

Week 1 of the high school football season is usually marked by countless teams trying to make their mark on the upcoming campaign.

And there’s more than enough matchups around the state – both between teams inside the state and those that are inviting opponents from out of state to challenge them or hitting the road – to do so.

Here’s a look at some of the more intriguing scheduled contests for Week 1:

Batavia (9-3 in 2019) at Montini (8-3), Friday, August 28, 7:30 p.m.: Batavia's season-opener series with East St. Louis was a one-off arrangement, but it didn't take the Bulldogs all that long to line up yet another season-opening game with tons of pedigree. Montini has a lot to rebuild, particularly on offense where most of its top weapons have graduated. DiAndre Harris is a difference maker for Montini on the defensive side of the ball and might see an expanded role on offense. Batavia also graduated a lot, but still has Trey Urwiler (Northern Illinois commit) available to deploy against opposing defenses.

Bolingbrook (8-4) at Minooka (11-1); Friday, August 28, 7 p.m.: Another Week 1 matchup borne out of necessity as both teams scuffled to find an opponent to kickoff the season. Bolingbrook has a wealth of returning players including three Division I committed players on the defensive side of the ball in Tyler McLaurin (Michigan), Malik Rainey (Cincinnati) and Justin Walters (Notre Dame). That could be problematic for a Minooka squad that graduated the majority of the key contributors from last year's Class 8A quarterfinal crew.

Tri-Valley (4-5) at St. Teresa (11-2); Friday, August 28, 7 p.m.: St. Teresa keeps bringing electric running backs into the fold and one of the state's top returning rushers, Denim Cook, will look to improve on his 2,000-yard plus effort as a sophomore in 2019. Last year was a down year for Tri-Valley, as the school had its 11-year playoff streak snapped. But we aren't that far removed from a state championship caliber squad (2015 Class 1A champions) and it would be foolish to think that the Vikings won't bounce back.

East. St. Louis (14-0) at Christian Brothers (Mo.) (8-3); Friday, August 28, 7 p.m.: East St. Louis prides itself on challenging itself at the highest level and the 2020 version of the schedule might be one of the most telling indicators of the standard it holds itself to. The Flyers start this campaign against one of the best programs in Missouri, one that has gone 58-8 over the last five seasons with a pair of state championships. This is the first of multiple quality out-of-state opponents East St. Louis faces this season. (More on that later).

Hinsdale Central (8-2) at Naperville Central (4-5); Friday, August 28, 7:30 p.m.: There was a ton of buzz around Naperville Central at the beginning of last season with the presence of explosive weapons like Sam Jackson and Reggie Fleurima in the fold, but an inspired effort from the Hinsdale Central defense allowed them to emerge with a 14-6 win, which sparked a seven-game winning streak to start the season. Naperville Central will look to avenge that loss and still have both Jackson and Fleurima for the Hinsdale defensive unit to once again attempt to rein in.

Other games of note: Brother Rice at Hillcrest; Friday, August 28, 7 p.m.; Phillips at Crete-Monee; Friday, August 28, 7 p.m.; Glenbard West vs. Maine South; Friday, August 28, TBD; Gurnee Warren at Barrington; Friday, August 28, 7:30 p.m.; Neuqua Valley at Oswego; Friday, August 28, 7 p.m.

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.